Joseph Becherer

Joseph Becherer, Ph.D.

Lena Meijer Professor in the History of Art
Phone: (616) 632-2409
Office: AMC 203


Ph.D., Indiana University, 2001
M.F.A, Ohio University, 1989
B.F.A, Ohio University, 1987


Joseph Antenucci Becherer is the founding Director and Curator of the Sculpture Program at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He currently serves as Chief Curator and Vice President of Sculpture and Horticulture, Collections and Exhibitions.  In addition he is the Lena Meijer Professor in the History of Art at Aquinas College teaching courses in Renaissance, Baroque, Modern, and Contemporary art.  Becherer earned a BFA and MFA at Ohio University with a thesis was on Georges Rouault; he continued with a Ph.D. at Indiana University, working under Bruce Cole who advised his dissertation on Pietro Perugino and American collecting.  

Becherer has authored numerous books, catalogues and articles, and curated many exhibitions.  Most recently he has organized exhibitions of Jaume Plensa, Jonathan Borofsky, Jim Dine Andy Goldsworthy, Alexander Calder, Mark di Suvero, Henry Moore, George Segal, Richard Hunt, Auguste Rodin, Magdalena Abakanowicz and Anthony Caro, among others.  He is presently preparing a retrospective of Beverly Pepper and the premier American exhibitions of Hanneke Beaumont and Arne Quinze, respectively. 

Becherer has served on numerous civic art advisory committees including those which commissioned major public works by Dennis Oppenheim and Maya Lin. He was chair of the national committee to commission a sculpture of President Gerald R. Ford for the Rotunda of the US Capitol Building dedicated in 2011.  A member of numerous professional organizations, he serves on the executive board of the Midwest Art History Society and advisory boards for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ox-Bow program, the International Sculpture Center, and the College of Fine Arts at Ohio University.  In addition, he authors a monthly column on the visual arts for Grand Rapids Magazine. In 2004, he was knighted by the Republic of Italy with the honor of “Cavaliere nell’ Ordine al Merito” for service to the arts and culture.  In 2012, he was juror for the Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture, and will be awarded the Medal of Merit by Ohio University.

Becherer lives with his wife and sons in Grand Rapids, Michigan.


Dana Freeman

Associate Professor of Art and Gallery Director
Phone: (616) 632-2408
Office: AMC 206


M.F.A., University of California, 1992
B.A., Pomona College, 1981


A native of California, Dana has lived in Michigan since 1993, when she accepted a position at Aquinas College. Dana studied as an undergraduate at Pomona College, focusing on abstract painting and assemblage sculpture. Her M.F.A. is from the University of California, Santa Barbara in photography, video and performance/installation. 

Dana's work is concept driven and usually involves non-traditional art media, such as eggshells, ants, bread, sand, and flowers. It takes the form of sculpture, video, photography and installations exploring ideas of waiting, obsession, the chaos of language and a child's experiences.

>More About Professor Freeman

Madeline Kaczmarczyk

Madeline Kaczmarczyk

Adjunct Associate Professor of Art
Phone: Office- (616) 632-2412 Cell- (616) 745-6752
Office: AMC 134


Michigan State University, (Lansing, MI)
Pewabic Pottery, (Detroit, MI)

Aquinas College (Grand Rapids, MI)

Madeline Kaczmarczyk was a professional potter before joining the faculty at Aquinas College in the Ceramics Dept. in 1999. Her personal work incorporates wheel throwing and hand building with an interest in combining materials and technology with clay. She has exhibited at the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, the American Craft Museum in NYC, as well as national juried art fairs and galleries. Most recently she has created ceramic tile installation at St. Joseph the Worker and Holy Name of Jesus parishes in the Grand Rapids area. Her work is included in many private collections as well as several national museums.  Madeline has a BA from Aquinas College with advanced studies in clay at Pewabic Pottery in Detroit. She regularly leads ceramic workshops at Midwest colleges and ceramic centers.

>View Madeline's Art


Don Kerr

Adjunct Professor of Art
Phone: (616) 632-2411
Office: AMC 205

>Download Prof. Kerr's vita (pdf)


M.F.A., University of Iowa

B.A., Michigan State University

Amanda Lahikainen

Amanda Lahikainen, Ph. D.

Assistant Professor of Art History

Phone: (616) 632-2399


Office: AMC 204


Ph.D., Brown University, 2011

B.A., Wellesley College, 2002

I graduated with a B.A. in philosophy from Wellesley College and hold a Ph.D. in the history of art and architecture from Brown University in Providence. My dissertation examined the visualization of abstract ideas - ideas that were in many ways inseparable from Revolutionary France - in British political graphic satire over the course of the 1790s. This doctoral work got me thinking about the fear and use of paper money in Britain, an interest that has turned into a project on the representation of debt in the English speaking transatlantic during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My research has been funded by Brown University, the Paul Mellon Centre in London, the Huntington Library and Art Collections in San Marino (Calif.), Yale’s Lewis Walpole Library in Farmington (C.T.), the Swann Foundation for Caricature and Cartoon, and the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress in Washington (D.C.). I have broad interests in the history of art beyond my specialty in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century art & architecture; these include satire, print culture, World Heritage, and the theory and methods of art history.



Lahikainen, A., “Romanticism and Graphic Satire,” a book review of Romanticism and

            Caricature and High Spirits: The Comic Art of Thomas RowlandsonPrint Quarterly,

            32:1 (March 2015): 101-03.


Lahikainen, A., ‘“Some species of contrasts’: British Graphic Satire, the French Revolution and

            the Humor of Horror,” HUMOR: International Journal of Humor Studies, 28:1 (February

            2015): 93-117.


Lahikainen, A., “‘British Asignats’: Debt, Caricature and Romantic Subjectivity in 1797,”

            Studies in Romanticism, 53 (Winter 2014): 509-540.


Lahikainen, A., “Represantant d’une grande nation: The Politics of an Anglo-French Aquatint,”

            Print Quarterly, 29:1 (March 2012): 22-32.

Chris LaPorte

Chris LaPorte

Assistant Professor of Art

Phone: (616) 632-2424

Office: AMC 202


M.F.A. Painting, New York Academy of Art—The Graduate School of Figurative Art, New York, New York, 1999

B.F.A. Studio Art Concentration in Painting and Drawing, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1996

Lacoste School of Arts, Lacoste, France

University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio


“I love to draw. Drawing is always cool - no matter what your age or background,” said Chris LaPorte. He has pursued drawing as a vocation his whole adult life and has received art degrees from Aquinas College, La Coste Ecole de Beaux Arts, and the New York Academy of Art. LaPorte has taught drawing at GVSU, GRCC, Kendall College of Art and Design, and Aquinas College as well as educational institutions in New York and Michigan. LaPorte’s caricature and portrait business has financially supported his education, travel, and fine arts studio. He has drawn close to 85,000 people over the last 18 years of drawing. LaPorte has also participated in numerous art exhibitions in Michigan and New York City.


Sister Marie Celeste Miller, O.P.
Professor Emeritus

Ph.D., Emory University, 1983
M.A., Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, 1976
B.A., Aquinas College, 1968


Sister Marie Celeste Miller, Professor Emeritus, is presently teaching Art Appreciation, which is a web course. During her time at Aquinas, Sr. Marie Celeste taught Art Survey, the Modern Art sequence and in the Humanities Program.  She has served as the founding director of the Humanities Program and Dean of Curriculum at Aquinas. Sister received her B.A. from Aquinas, her M.A. from the Breadloaf School of English at Middlebury College, and her Ph.D. from Emory University.  She has also taught at Centre College of Danville, Kentucky.  Her present interests include Asian art and web-based learning.
Ron & Miriam Pederson

Ron Pederson

Professor Emeritus

M.F.A., University of Minnesota, 1977
B.A., Bethel College, 1969

Ron Pederson, Professor Emeritus, taught sculpture and intermittently served as Art Department Chairperson for thirty years, retiring after spring semester 2012. He continues to teach part time, serves as ArtPrize Curator for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, and exhibits sculpture and poetry collaboratively with his wife Miriam (pictured). Each spring semester, Ron and Miriam will continue to teach the popular course "Artists and Writers in Collaboration."


Sharon Sandberg

Adjunct Associate Professor of Art
Phone: (616) 632-2411
Office: AMC 205


M.F.A., University of Michigan, 1987
B.F.A., Grand Valley State University, 1980


Born in Oak Park, Illinois, Sharon Sandberg received her B.F.A. degree from Grand Valley State University, her M.F.A. in painting from the University of Michigan and has done post-degree work at the Universite d'Aix-Marseilles III, Aix-en-Provence, France.  She has also studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.  Sandberg has taught at Grand Valley State University, served as Director and drawing instructor in the Art in France Program for Grand Valley, and was Visiting Professor at the University of Michigan's School of Art and Design, leading to a summer workshop in still life painting.  During the autumn months of 1996 Sandberg painted and exhibited in London, England. She has taught drawing, design and painting at Aquinas College since the fall of 1996 and is currently in charge of the department's painting program.  She is locally represented by LaFontsee Galleries in Grand Rapids.  Sharon lives in Grand Rapid's Heritage Hill area with her painter husband, Don Kerr.
Steve Schousen

Steven Schousen, Art Department Chairperson

Professor of Art
Phone: (616) 632-2407
Office: AMC 110

M.F.A., University of Massachusetts, 1982
B.A., Marietta College, 1977

H.J. Slider

H.J. Slider

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art

Phone: (616) 632-2412

Office: AMC 134


M.A., Michigan State University, 1979

B.S. in Education, Central Michigan University, 1975

Helen Jane Slider has spent more than 30 years as an art educator, in Michigan and in Alaska, retiring from Kentwood Public Schools in 2012. She provides mentoring and instruction for Aquinas students seeking state certification in art education. A member of the National Art Education Association since 1975, she received the Alaska Elementary Art Teacher of the Year award and served as regional liaison for the Michigan Art Education Association. In the studio, Slider creates assembled sculpture, predominately abstract figures, using recycled and post-consumer materials. Her work has appeared in local, regional and state shows, including the Festival Visual Arts, the Annual Michigan Education Association Exhibit and ArtPrize. Ms. Slider is a founding member of the WHAT Group, a tri-county women’s art consortium focused on creativity, visual arts and wellness. She lives in Caledonia with husband Steven Johnson.